The Kremlin says Turkey has a ‘legitimate right’ to protect its security, after Ankara launched attacks on alleged Kurdish positions.
The Kremlin has said Russia respects Turkey’s “legitimate” security concerns over Syria but claimed all parties there should avoid steps that could worsen the situation.
On Sunday, Turkish forces launched cross-border air raids in northern Syria and Iraq on what they said were positions of Kurdish groups they blame for the November 13 bombing in central Istanbul, that killed six people.
On the same day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara may deploy ground forces.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that while there were disagreements between Russia and Turkey in their approach to Syria, Moscow understood Turkey’s security concerns.
“We understand and respect Turkey’s concerns about ensuring its own security. We believe this is Turkey’s legitimate right. At the same time, we call on all parties to refrain from steps that could lead to the destabilisation of the overall situation,” he said.
Ankara blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and affiliated Syrian Kurdish groups for the Istanbul attack, which also saw more than 80 people wounded.
Kurdish fighters have denied any involvement.
The Turkish defence ministry said its so-called Claw Sword operation – which also included land-fired weapons – killed 184 fighters and destroyed 89 targets including shelters, bunkers, caves and tunnels.
Washington, like Moscow, called for de-escalation.
Russia supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s 11-year war, while Ankara has backed rebels fighting to topple him.
The Kremlin’s gentle call for restraint came as Ankara positions itself as a mediator between Moscow and Kyiv in the Ukraine war, which began on February 24 with Russia’s invasion.
Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have enjoyed a warm relationship throughout the conflict, with regular phone calls and meetings.
Turkey has good relations with Ukraine, too, as the supplier of drones and other weapons.